Why I Won’t Win “Mother of the Year”

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Ever since I became a mother, one thing has really become clear to me.

People judge you.

For some strange reason, everyone automatically assumes that they have the right to comment on everything that you do involving your children.

Welcome to the world of micro-scrutiny. A place where taking your children out of the house puts your role as a mother on public display and your ability to parent is constantly being questioned.

These so-called “well-intentioned” people, from family to friends to acquaintances to total strangers have offered up their opinions about all aspects of my capabilities as a mother, from the way I feed my babies to the way I discipline them and every little detail in between.

I have had people criticize me for the tiniest of parenting infractions, like giving my child a sip of my soda.

Really, has a few drops of cola ever killed anyone?

I’ve also been told that I shouldn’t breastfeed because it’s “gross” (say what?) and that Bronx wouldn’t have had any growth issues if I had just put him on formula.

That’s not including the gastrointestinal specialist that told me I was personally responsible for causing the malnourishment of my son because I breastfed him while I was pregnant.

And just today, I got a load of crap about my double stroller. All because it wouldn’t fit easily through a door that was modified with one of those finger guards for kids.

Yes, I was berated for not investing in a narrower stroller, or for my decision to use a double one instead of trying to carry around two children under two with my bare hands.

I’m not really sure which one.

And then there are the people that give me dirty looks and view me as irresponsible for having so many babies so close together, at such a young age.

Except my youngest two aren’t as close in age as people assume (I’ve already gotten inquires about them being twins! Seriously?!) and I am not nearly as young as I look.

I thought that appearing younger than your actual age was supposed to be a good thing, but it mostly works against me.

In response to all the negativity, I learned early on to put on my “perfect mommy” face.

The one where I never lose my patience, the one where I go out of my way to keep my kids happy and smiling. The one where I pretend that I appreciate the unwelcome comments and advice.

The problem is that the June Cleaver act gets old pretty quick.

And after four years of playing into this phony facade, I am finally ready to admit that I am not the perfect mother.

Hell, I’m not even close enough to play her in a movie.

Not even a Lifetime movie.

But I try.

Even though there are times when I just have to let things go for my own sanity’s sake. Times when I overreact and lose my temper. Times when I think that I might go absolutely crazy.

There are even times when I suddenly realize, with desperation and horror, that I have no idea what I’m doing.

I have fallen far from the days before I had children, when I would watch Supernanny with my husband and rant on and on about how we would never have those kinds of issues with our kids, because the parents on that show were complete morons.

I mean, Come On! Parenting is easy. It’s all just common sense!

I used to think I had all the answers.

And now, I know I don’t.

Which is why my kids sometimes get stuck with PB& J for dinner when I’m in a pinch (not exactly the best nutrition, oops!), or why, on a particularly bad and hectic day, I’ve forgotten to completely finish buckling one of the kids in their car seat (I know, it freaked me out when I discovered it too!) or why I’ve spanked (OMG! Yes, I actually spanked when I swore I never would) my oldest in the heat of the moment because I’ve ran out of patience for his bad behavior.

I’m not proud of it, but sometimes I have had an epic fail or two as a mom.

At least the most significant shortcomings fit into just one short, confessional paragraph.

That doesn’t make me a bad mom, just an imperfect one. I’m only human. I do the best that I can, even if it means that I mess up every now and again.

So, even though I will never be crowned “Mother of the Year”, it’s okay. My reign as Suburban Princess will continue on.

Which means the kids are still going to end up late to preschool and when I actually find the time to make dinner, the dessert will probably be on fire.

Because, honestly, I’m no Betty Crocker either.

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